A thought without intense emotion and feeling has no real power to engage our neural pathways effectively. It’s through the intensity of emotion and reliving the thoughts and feelings that makes an experience a well-remembered habit. Intense emotions trigger the ‘wiring and firing’ in the brain, resulting in a deeper neural connection. It’s this intensity that helps form well-worn pathways in the brain.
‘Every thought you think and every word you say forms a blueprint, and your mind must work to make that blueprint real.’ Marisa Peer
Thoughts are life forming, as whatever we feed the brain informs it. It’s therefore important that our thoughts support and nurture us, as opposed undermining us and causing hardship in life.
- These neural pathways form the basis of our habits of thinking, feeling, and acting. They help support the creation of new habits of the mind and help reprogramme the old, dysfunctional patterns.
- As we change our thinking, we create new possibilities in how we feel and respond to our external environment, improving our relationships within ourselves and in our relationships with others.
- Through synchronised events, the external world changes to match the vibration of our inner world of thought and feeling, thereby changing our reality.
‘As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.’ Henry David Thoreau
Most of us get lost in our thoughts at some point throughout the day. It helps if we can become more aware of what it is that we are thinking. It helps too if we can feel the feeling behind the thoughts. According to neuroanatomist, Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor, we are sensory beings; we feel first then we think. It takes just 90 seconds to process an emotion.
Once we address things at the feeling level, we are then less likely to be emotionally led, and as a result, we can direct our thoughts down the path we wish to lead them. When we focus on our heightened emotions, this then becomes the driving force that motivates us and helps override the negative emotion, breaking-through the pain barrier that change may bring.
Switching Off The Stress Response
‘Instead of worrying about what you cannot control, shift your energy to what you can create.’ Roy T. Bennett, The Light In The Heart
Taking time to think kind thoughts about ourselves and also about loved ones has psychological and physical benefits. By kind thoughts, I mean practising the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
The brain is a receptor of information and every thought we think and feeling we feel, strengthens the neuro circuitry in our brain. The HeartMath Institute believes emotions have as much to do with the heart and body as they do with the brain. It’s believed that what we experience as an emotion is the result of the brain, heart, and body acting in concert.
Research scientists from the universities of Exeter and Oxford carried out combined trials. They found that practising self-compassion calms the heart rate and in so doing it switches off the body’s stress response. When we switch off our stress response, we boost our immune system and, in so doing, we give ourselves the best chance of healing on every level.
At the research trials, the candidates were encouraged to adopt an attitude of interest and calmness as they attended to their bodily sensations. This helped foster an approach of ‘self-focused loving kindness’; in which they directed kindness and soothing thoughts inwards to themselves or a loved one. As their minds were focused on kind and soothing thoughts, their bodies naturally adopted a calm and relaxed state. Adopting this approach to life takes practice and lots of repetition, especially if we want to develop strong neural connections. But remember, it’s through the intensity of emotion and reliving the thoughts and feelings that makes an experience a well-remembered habit.
So, go ahead, give it a try, practise being friendly, generous and considerate towards yourself and also to others. Why not, you’ve got nothing to lose.